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Material Texts Colloquium: on the library and the Kelmscott Press

Yuri Cowan (NTNU, Norway)
Material Texts Colloquium flyer
Monday, October 16, 2017 - 3:30pm
Communications 202

The Mirror of Everyday Life: William Morris’s Book Collecting and the Kelmscott Press 

In accordance with his historical, aesthetic, and political theories, William Morris’s collection of medieval manuscripts, early printed books, and books about medieval art and material culture were meant to be experienced as art-objects, as reading copies, and as texts that provided a broad and stimulating picture of the everyday life of the past. In addition to their status as exemplars to support Morris’s historical and social theories, his library of (mostly German, but also French, Dutch and English) incunabula and manuscripts served to influence the design of books at his Kelmscott Press and thus by extension the entire small press movement. This lecture will draw on original research into Morris’s collecting practices to chart the influence of his library on his and his collaborators’ theories in the field of book design, and to outline some of the literary and historical principles on which the wide-ranging canon of Kelmscott texts was based. 

Yuri Cowan is Professor in the Department of Language and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, specializing in book history, nineteenth-century literature, and medievalism. He has published articles on topics including William Morris; the Aesthetic Movement; ballad anthologies and the history of editing; Victorian sporting periodicals; and the reprinting of Victorian fantasy in the 1970s. His current book project is entitled William Morris and Medieval Material Culture, and he is beginning to write about the portrayal of book technology in science fiction. He is also a founding editor of the online peer-reviewed open-access journal Authorship.

Reception to follow. All are welcome. 

Cosponsored by the Textual Studies Program, the Art History Department, the 18th and 19th Century Graduate Research Cluster, and CMEMS.

The Textual Studies Interdisciplinary Committee welcomes proposals year round from UW faculty and graduate students who would like to present work-in-progress on any aspect of manuscript, print, or digital cultures at the Material Texts Colloquium. Email:

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